|1:05 PM PT2:05 PM MT3:05 PM CT4:05 PM ET16:05 ET20:05 GMT4:05 1:05 PM MST3:05 PM EST3:35 PM VEN0:05 UAE (+1)2:05 PM CT, March 30, 2019
Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Attendance: 44,597
Phillies' Pivetta squares off against Braves rookie Wilson
Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies
- The Phillies are 23-15 against the Braves at home over the past four seasons, including three shutouts in the last six meetings of 2018. However, Atlanta's pitchers held Philadelphia to a .203 batting average across all 19 games last season, the fifth lowest by a team against a divisional opponent in 2018.
- The Braves won 90 games and finished first in the NL East in 2018, achieving a 90-win season and a division title each for the first time since 2013. Atlanta exited the playoffs at the hands of the Dodgers in the NLDS, 3-1, which was the same exact result for the Braves in 2013.
- The Phillies finished 2018 with an 80-82 record and missed the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. Philadelphia was 49-32 (.605) at home and 31-50 (.383) on the road, the second-largest difference in win percentage (+.222) among teams that were better at home (Minnesota, +.247).
- Julio Teheran went 1-2 after August 1 last season despite posting a 2.97 ERA and a .167 opponent batting average. That opponent average was the second lowest among NL pitchers who pitched at least 30 innings from August 1 to the end of the regular season (Walker Buehler, .154).
- Aaron Nola went 17-6 with 224 strikeouts in 212.1 innings in 2018. It was Nola's second consecutive season with a strikeout-per-nine figure above 9.0 while pitching at least one inning per team game. The only other pitcher in team history to do so in back-to-back seasons was Curt Schilling in 1997 and 1998.
- Bryce Harper signed with the Phillies as a free agent in the offseason. In his seven seasons in Washington, Harper amassed 521 RBI and 610 runs scored. Still 26 years old, he is the first left-handed hitter to reach 500 RBI and 600 runs scored before turning 27 since Ken Griffey Jr (725 RBI, 695 runs).
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Philadelphia has chosen another bright young member of its pitching staff to start the second game of the season, while Atlanta has dipped into the wealth of its farm system.
Philadelphia will send right-hander Nick Pivetta (7-14, 4.77 ERA in 2018) to oppose Atlanta rookie right-hander Bryse Wilson (1-0, 6.43 in 2018) on Saturday in the second game of the three-game series in Philadelphia.
Pivetta, who has a powerful arm on his 6-foot-5 frame, has done well against Atlanta in his two years in the majors. Pivetta is 4-1 with a 2.72 ERA in eight starts against the Braves. He has struck out 35 in 43 innings pitched against Atlanta and averaged 10.32 strikeouts per nine innings through his first two seasons.
He made five starts against Atlanta last season, going 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA. He had three good starts and two poor starts. He allowed one run over five innings on April 17, fired seven shutout innings in beating the Braves on May 21 and allowed one run in five innings on Sept. 21. In the other two starts, he combined to throw nine innings and allow seven runs.
"We sat there and watched (a spring training game) and one of the things we kept saying was, 'That's A-plus elite stuff,'" Philadelphia manager Gabe Kapler said. "We've known that for quite some time, but he is starting to harness it a bit. It's definitely in there. He has the potential to be a breakout performer, for sure."
Wilson, Pivetta's mound opponent, has quickly ascended through the deep Atlanta farm system. Last summer, Wilson became the first high school player chosen in the 2016 Major League Draft to reach the majors. The Braves used a fourth-round pick on Wilson and convinced him to sign with a $1.2 million bonus rather than play collegiately for North Carolina.
Wilson sped his way through three minor league levels last year, going 8-5 with a 3.44 ERA in 25 appearances. He had a 19-13 record with a 2.74 in 60 games in the minors, 55 of them starts, with 311 strikeouts and 81 walks in 289 1/3 innings.
He joined the Braves in late summer and won his debut on Aug. 20, beating the Pirates with five scoreless innings in his only start. He had two other ineffective relief appearances afterwards.
Wilson is an aggressive pitcher, who attacks with his fastball, which generally measures in the low-90s. He breaking ball resembles a hard, tight slider. Wilson was generally seen as a middle of the rotation guy and possibly a bullpen guy, but was moved into the rotation when injured Atlanta starters Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Gausman were unable to start the season.
This spring Wilson pitched 13 2/3 innings in five appearances, four starts, and compiled a 3.29 ERA, with 13 strikeouts and two walks.
"He's an aggressive kid that's going to be on the attack," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said.
The Phillies exploited the Atlanta bullpen on Opening Day and took a 10-4 win on Thursday. It was Philadelphia's largest margin of victory in a season opener since Roy Halladay pitched them to an 11-1 win over Washington in 2010.
The Phillies got home runs from Andrew McCutchen, Maikel Franco and Rhys Hoskins -- his first career grand slam -- to support six strong innings from starting pitcher Aaron Nola before the first of three sold-out crowds for the opening weekend.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 29, 2019